Washington’s pitching was superb in its 6-1 victory over Milwaukee in the series finale on Sunday.
The National didn’t allow a base hit after David Bell’s single with no outs in the second. Michael O’Connor’s pitch count labored in the first two innings throwing 46 pitches. In O’Connor, who was on a 75-pitch count, worked more efficiently in his last two innings totaling 23 pitches. O’Connor went four innings allowing one run on three hits on 69 pitches.
The Nationals relievers were more than up to the task of quieting the Brewers bats. Chris Schroeder came on for O’Connor in the fifth and overpowered Milwaukee striking out all six batters he faced. Saul Rivera pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the victory (3-0). Jon Rauch and Ryan Wagner added an inning each in relief for the Nationals, who are still mathematically alive in the Wild Card. With any loss or a Dodgers win, the Nationals (65-84) will be eliminated from the race.
Austin Kearns provided the sparks on offensively and defensively. His fifth inning home run tied the score at 1-1 ending Doug Davis’ game-opening run of retiring 13 straight batters. Kearns broke the deadlock in the seventh with a run-scoring to shallow right scoring Bernie Castro.
Kearns’ great day stretched over to the field. In the top of the eighth, Kearns made a fantastic shoestring catch which started an inning-ending double play. Kearns fired to first baseman Nick Johnson to double off pinch runner Tony Gwynn, who was running on the front end of a hit and run.
Castro’s spark in the lineup was a boost for the Nats. In the seventh, he beat out an infield single edging Davis barley. In the Nationals’ four-run eighth, Castro raced home from first on Felipe Lopez’ bases-loaded single. He didn’t break stride rounding third as first baseman Prince Fielder bobbled the throw allowing Castro to score. Castro helped in the field assisting in two double plays.
The Nationals’ four-run eighth was started with former Milwaukee closer Derrick Turnbow on the mound. Turnbow gave up a single to Brandon Harper. Nook Logan reached on a bunt single. After Nick Johnson struck out, Turnbow hit Alfonso Soriano in the back to load the bases. Castro followed with a groundball to shortstop Bill Hall, who threw home to get Harper. However, Harper was ruled safe as catcher Damien Miller was drawn off the plate on Hall’s throw. That was enough for Milwaukee manager Ned Yost who lifted Turnbow for Brian Shouse. In three appearances this month, Turnbow’s ERA is 16.87. In July, Turnbow had a 21.32 ERA. Turnbow has an 11.38 ERA over his last 23 appearances.
Prince Fielder didn’t record an official at-bat Sunday. He was hit by O’Conner twice and drew a walk.
I want to join everybody else in sending their thoughts and prayers to Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee and his family. Derrek announced yesterday he will miss the rest of the season to attend to his 3-year-old daughter, Jada who has lost vision in one of her eyes.
My editorial: I was shocked how quickly I could get to RFK Stadium. I showed up five minutes before first pitch via the subway (aka Metro). It didn’t take long to walkup and get a ticket. I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s approaching Fall and the Nationals are pretty much eliminated from the playoff race. Still, the announced attendance was 26,128 (insert comment here). I think the Skins playing Sunday night could’ve put resulted in a slight push in the numbers.
I feel bad for Turnbow after such a great ’05 season. I can’t help to think Turnbow is not pitching but throwing. His off-speed stuff deserted him when he hit his slump and everyone started waiting for the fastball or just a strike.
Awesome crowd reaction when Schroeder struck out Hall to end the top of the sixth. His fastball was just electric against the Brewers.